One Piece: The parallel between Zoro and Rayleigh, right-hand men of the Pirate Kings
One Piece fans have always known that Silvers Rayleigh is an exceptional fighter, but they became especially hyped about him after his outstanding return to the spotlight in chapter 1059. According to the leaks, the latest installment of the One Piece series features Rayleigh intimidating Blackbeard, forcing the Emperor to give up his intent and leave Amazon Lily.
This impressive feat is further proof that very few individuals in the One Piece world can compete with Rayleigh. Feared as the "Dark King", Rayleigh was the first mate of Roger Pirates and the right-hand man of Gol D. Roger, the Pirate King.
Fans consider Rayleigh to be the older generation version of Roronoa Zoro. Follow this thread to learn more about the parallels between them.
Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to Chapter 1059.
The analogy between Zoro and Rayleigh shows that they are meant to be counterparts in One Piece
The right-hand men of the Pirate Kings
One Piece author Eiichiro Oda created a strong resemblance between Roger Pirates, Red Hair Pirates, and Strawhat Pirates. All three of these crews count on a few powerful members rather than depending on large numbers. Their captains all owned the fated straw hat, creating a sort of metaphorical bridge between them. Roger passed the hat to Shanks, who eventually gifted it to Luffy.
The first mates of these crews are close in strength to their captains and act as brothers to them. Such is Rayleigh's connection with Roger, Benn Beckman's with Shanks, and Zoro's with Luffy. Interestingly, aside from the blatant similarities between these crews, their members also share clear parallels.
Both Rayleigh and Zoro operate as Roger and Luffy's close and trusted right-hand men, respectively. More than simple subordinates, Zoro and Rayleigh are partners and peers of their respective captains. They aren't mere followers of a leader, but kings who decided to join another king, believing in his vision.
Luffy and Roger are the future and former Pirate King, and both are Conquerors, just like Zoro and Rayleigh. With Luffy being linked with Roger, Zoro appears to have a strong analogy with Rayleigh. They share the same portrayal as the right-hand men of Pirate Kings, the future one and the former one.
The bond between these right-hand men and their captains is special. In Roger Pirates, no one is as close to Roger as Rayleigh is, not only in strength but in attachment as well. The same goes for Zoro with Luffy in Strawhat Pirates. Evidence of this is that Rayleigh was the only crewmember who earned a special farewell from Roger when the latter disbanded the crew and surrendered himself to the Marines.
Similarly, Zoro was the one who put his life on the line to save Luffy from Bartholomew Kuma during the Thriller Bark Arc. He was also the only Strawhat to fight by Luffy's side in the battle against Emperors Kaido and Big Mom. In that issue, Zoro protected his captain many times, fending off the Emperors' attacks.
Zoro and Rayleigh are confirmed to be the second strongest men in their respective crews, below only their captains. This was portrayed with the color spread of chapter 1031 of the One Piece manga, which depicted the line-up of the "Number Twos", the second strongest individuals from the most prominent crews and groups, involving Zoro for the Strawhat Pirates and Rayleigh for the Roger Pirates.
Two powerful Conquerors with the reputation of "Kings"
Rayleigh and Zoro's monikers hint at them being individuals of the same caliber as Roger and Luffy's. Rayleigh is called "Dark King", while Zoro, after unleashing his Conqueror Haki, goes by the name of "King of Hell". Not only do these epithets recall the same theme, but in the original Japanese spelling they have the same exact meaning of "King of the Underworld."
Throughout the One Piece series, it has been made clear that people who are born with Conqueror Haki inside them don't follow others, because they are the kind of people who lead, not the ones who tag along. As already addressed, both Zoro and Rayleigh are among the very few individuals who possess Conqueror Haki.
The presence of multiple Conqueror Haki users in Rocks Pirates led the crew to their downfall. Whitebeard wondered why Oden would join him. Zoro refused the Baroque Works' offer to join the organization, saying that he would only join if he was made the boss of the group. However, despite being Conquerors, Zoro and Rayleigh decided to follow Luffy and Roger, respectively.
This happened because, unlike the others, their strength is extremely close and comparable to their captain's. They didn't join their captains out of need for protection, like the other subordinates did, but because of the spontaneous trust that they felt for them.
Both the two duos of captains and right-hand men are composed of owners of the rare Conqueror Haki and individuals who are worthy of being called kings, for their potential and their strong will. In both duos there is a king advancing together with his shadow king, like two peers who aim for the top of the world. Such is the nature of the Roger/Rayleigh and the Luffy/Zoro duos.
Both Zoro and Rayleigh don't need a Devil Fruit to be among the strongest
According to Kaido, one of the Four Emperors as well as one of the strongest characters in the One Piece world, Haki is the greatest power of all, transcending everything else, even Devil Fruits. He also stated that the ability to use Conqueror Haki at its advanced stage is what separes the mightiest from the others.
Zoro and Rayleigh seem to give concrete evidence to Kaido's statement. Both the two right-hand men are extremely powerful warriors, despite never having eaten a Devil Fruit. They share a very similar fighting style, which relies on their incredible prowess as Haki masters and outstanding swordsmen.
Zoro is a lethal fighter. He showed impressive feats of endurance, speed and physical strength. He unleashes his power through his three Graded Swords coated in Armament Haki and Conqueror Haki to perform deadly attacks. Zoro was able to block the Emperors' combined attack and inflict Kaido a wound that left him a scar. He later defeated King, Kaido's right-hand man.
In his prime, Rayleigh was a fighter as strong if not stronger than the Emperors and the Admirals. A testament to his, even as an old man and after many years of inactivity, he was still strong enough to fight on par with Admiral Kizaru. This is not surprising, given the Dark King's status as a living legend. Garp, one of the most influential figures in the Old Era of One Piece, is compared Rayleigh to Whitebeard.
Zoro and Rayleigh look the same and act the same
The analogy between Rayleigh and Zoro doesn't only include their roles, their epithets, and their powers, but their esthetics as well. They look very similar, with scars of the same sort on their eyes and on their chests. Moreover, these scars are placed on the opposite sides of their bodies. As a result of this, Zoro and Rayleigh seem to mirror each other
The only visual difference between them is that Rayleigh wears glasses and has blonde hair, unlike Zoro, who has green hair and doesn't wear glasses. Recently, One Piece author Eiichiro Oda showed what Zoro would look like in his 40's and 60's. Unsurprisingly, he looks absolutely identical to how Rayleigh was at that age.
The two right-hand men are very alike even in their behavior. Both are mostly calm and collected, sometimes even stoic. They share a strong addiction to drinking alcohol. One Piece fans noticed that Oda loves to draw Zoro and Rayleigh acting with very similar gestural expressiveness, from the way they sit with a signature pose, to the way they laugh.
Throughout the One Piece series, the author really stressed the similarities between the two main duos of the future and the former Pirate King crew. Luffy and Zoro for the Strawhats, and Roger and Rayleigh for the Roger Pirates, make two exceptional duos of a captain and his close right-hand man.
Oda created a noticeable parallel between Zoro and Rayleigh, making them very alike in every possible way, from their powers to their looks. The most blatant similarity between the two is represented by their monikers of Kings of the Underworld, which symbolize that they are powerful individuals who are very comparable to their captains.
With the series entering its endgame after the latest chapters of the Wano Arc, One Piece fans would love to learn more about Rayleigh. After the latest chapter of the manga teased them with the Dark King's impressive appearance, most fans are eager to see him in action again.
Many fans would also appreciate Zoro interacting with Rayleigh, as sort of a handover between the right-hand man of the former Pirate King and the right-hand man of the future one. Hopefully Eiichiro Oda will gift the fans with an epic moment involving these two well-loved characters.